Crapware, tool bars, malware, adware, browser hijackers, wrapped software…
The decent sites try to alert you…the others? Switch around the buttons, make it look like a terms and conditions statement, put in ads, even APIs with who knows what functions in them…the latest trend? Pushing lookalike copies of Google Chrome with adware bundled directly in them! Who reads the fine print, even when you navigate through all the double negatives and obscuring language?
So…the writer of this article (Lowell Heddings) did the research and took on the top ten download sites to see which is safe.
Which ten? Download.com (C|net), Tucows, FileHippo, Softpedia, SnapFiles, FreewareFiles, NoNags, SourceForge, Google2SRT, and MajorGeeks.
All had bundled software or worse. At least with MajorGeeks when you look (and I recommend you do look) at the header over the software, where they’ll tell you if it’s bundled, and in red if there’s adware (but far down the page like Softpedia)…but you have to look and NOT ASSUME that it’s clean.
An amusing quote?
“We actually talked to the owner of MajorGeeks about this, and he said that if he only listed freeware downloads that don’t contain bundled crapware, he’d have almost no downloads to list and would just have to close up shop. So he makes sure to mark things as containing bundled crapware, and there’s a notice at the bottom. We wish the notice was bigger, and more prominent, but we’ll have to give him credit for at least trying to do the right thing. And for testing every single thing that they put on the site before they put it up there.” – howtogeek
About the “download only from the official site”?
One of the most common responses to our article was that people should just download from the official site. And as everybody knows, you use Google to find anything. Ohhh… that’s unfortunate.
Sadly, even on Google all the top results for most open source and freeware are just ads for really terrible sites that are bundling crapware, adware, and malware on top of the installer.
Most geeks will know that they shouldn’t click on the ads, but obviously enough people are clicking those ads for them to be able to afford to pay the high per-click prices for Google AdWords.” – howtogeek
When you see “free”, just know the real product is you.
A truly safe site? nirsoft.net and maybe one other…